David Raines offers this brief comment on the Kingston University conference on Rethinking Trauma and Resilience in the context of Political Violence.
Over 200 people attended the conference “Rethinking trauma and resilience in the context of political violence: new directions in research and practice” at Kingston University over the week-end of the 14/15th of November 2015. The conference was organised by the Palestine Trauma Centre (UK), The UK-Palestine Mental Health Network and Palestine-UK Social Work Network and brought together diverse groups of mental health workers, social workers and academics to evaluate mental health practices in a war zone and question the traditional concept of trauma.
With over 30 presentations the conference provided an opportunity to review recent research into the psychological impact of ongoing political violence and programmes that have been developed to foster resilience in the Palestinian Community.
The symposia covered a wide range of topics including psychological interventions for trauma, Individual and collective trauma, trauma and resilience among women and children, training and supervision and refugee and displacement trauma.
It was heartening to hear from so many Palestinians who are actively involved in research and practice in the West Bank and Gaza as well as internationally acclaimed researchers such as Brian Barber from the USA.
Sadly, some presenters were unable to attend in person after they were denied visas by the UK government but, were still able to contribute with online presentations.
While many factors relating to trauma were discussed there was one clear message from the participants who talked about Gaza. The evidence shows that the single most important factor impacting on mental health and ongoing conflict is the continued blockade and working to lift this oppressive burden must take highest priority.
A comment from Mohammed Mukhaimar on the Rethinking Trauma conference.
The conference was a good success and the campaign to protest the visa refusal to Gaza group was published in the British Medical Journal, the Independent and different solidarity groups. It was very good to meet some people and to build connections with others. I am still not sure how the conference organisers will take things forward, I am still waiting to hear from the conference coordinator. Dr John Van Eenwyk contribution, whom I invited from Seattle, was remarkable. His keynote speech moved people, this is a link to similar speech that he made in Olympia on Gaza siege when he returned from Gaza a year ago. See the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ognVBcxNV_k
David Raines talk was good too, he brought people attention to Sumud Palestine, he talked about his work with WHO in Syria and Libya. He made a good argument why CBT can deliver in a multicultural and environmental level.